Tragedy as Cradock accident claims 18 lives

The school principal of Cradock Primary School was among the 18 killed when a bus and minibus collided on the R61 between Cradock and Graaf-Reinet in the Eastern Cape on Saturday, Arrive Alive said.

At least two school children were also killed in the incident.

“The principle was actually driving the [bus] when the crash occurred,” said Arrive Alive spokesman Tshepo Machaea.

Fourteen people were seriously injured in the crash. They have all been transported to hospitals in the area.

The bus was carrying schoolchildren to an event in Graaf-Reinet when it collided with a minibus carrying passengers from Cape Town to Mthatha.

“The accident was a head-on collision,” said Machaea. Its still unclear what led to the crash.

Transport department spokesman Ncebo Kumbaca said the deputy minister Sindisiwe Chikunga and Eastern Cape transport MEC Thandiswa Marawu were expected to visit the injured soon.

President Jacob Zuma extended his condolences on Sunday to the families of the 18 people who died in the bus accident near Cradock in the Eastern Cape.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who lost their loved ones in this tragedy. We also wish those injured a speed recovery so that they can reunite with their families at home,” Zuma said in a statement.

Zuma said the numbers of deaths on South African roads was unacceptable.

“Even the death of one South African on our roads is unacceptable and painful, even more so these numbers of our people including children that we now appear to lose each week.

“The law enforcement agencies must therefore conduct necessary investigations and ensure that negligence on anyone’s part is punished to the full extent of the law.”

The Democratic Alliance said they were shocked by the accident.

DA MP Donald Smiles, in a statement, extended his condolences to the families of those killed.

“Our hearts and prayers are with them,” he said.

Smiles said the accident emphasised the need to pay serious attention to road safety.

“This heart-breaking incident could have been avoided. We cannot allow the unnecessary loss of lives on our roads to continue,” he said.

The Inkatha Freedom Party on Sunday said South Africa’s roads were killing fields which consumed young and old.

IFP spokesman, Joshua Mazibuko said the accidents like the Cradock bus accident demonstrated that government’s “glamorous awareness campaigns” did not achieve the intended objective.

“This was partly due to the fact that some South African drivers and transport providers have lost all sense of Ubuntu and therefore do not care about being law-abiding.”

He said it was time for the government to focus on ensuring that there were many visible police on our roads and that the law was developed with sharp teeth against any law-breaker.

“Otherwise, South Africa may as well resign herself to being the theatre of road carnage.”